Philosophy Dictionary of Arguments

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Höffe I 67
Democracy/Aristoteles/Höffe: Depending on the circle of citizens admitted to rule and the
Höffe I 68
scope of their authority to rule, Aristotle distinguishes five forms of democracy. In this way he tacitly introduces a comparative concept, a concept of more-or-less democracy(1).
The first three forms are still bound by the law. In the fourth, extreme form, all citizens are capable of ruling, which we consider positive today. However, according to the negative side, they are allowed to exempt themselves from all legal requirements, even to commit blatant violations of the law.
Radical democracy: Because they do not aim at the common good but at their own good, radical democracy, as Mill will repeat, appears as a tyranny of the majority.(2)
Constitution: "where there is no law, there is no constitution (politeia).
Laws: (...) the law must rule the whole, but those who govern must rule the individual cases".(3)
Rule of law: Here Aristotle pleads for a core element of the modern understanding of democracy, for a constitutional state.
Since [Aristotle] (...) favours a mixed constitution that combines oligarchic with democratic elements, commits them to the common good and allows the People's Assembly to make the important decisions, Aristotle can be considered largely democratic in the modern sense of the word. ((s) But see >Inequality/Aristotle.)


1. Arist. Politika IV 4
2. IV 4, 1292a15 ff.).
3. 1292a32–34


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Höffe I
Otfried Höffe
Geschichte des politischen Denkens München 2016


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2020-08-12
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